UNLV Boys demo Candy Crush-style Skill Slot at G2E

Guru Games Founders Troy Pettie and Evan ThomasTalk of skill-based slot machines has run rampant through Las Vegas casinos for the last year. Nevada passed a bill that legalizes skill slots in September 2015, and while manufacturers have been busy trying to create them, they quickly learned it’s not so easy to take games of skill and turn them into slot-style games with a guaranteed house edge, as per the state’s regulatory guidelines.

Last week, a pair of tech students from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) turned up at the 2016 Global Gaming Expo (G2E) where they demonstrated a new game they developed that just might become the first skill slot to pass rigorous testing from the Nevada Gaming Control Board. It’s called ‘Line Em’ Up‘, and was inspired by extremely popular, puzzle-based social games like Candy Crush and Bejeweled.

Troy Pettie and Evan Thomas, both 20 year old students at UNLV, not only designed the new game, they founded their own company to house it. The company is called Guru Games, and these boys are confident they’ve got what it takes to bring the first skill-based video gambling machines to the gaming floors of Las Vegas casinos.

Line Em’ Up Skill Slots

Line Em Up Skill SlotThis is an original skill-based game called Line Em’ Up,” said Pettie while demonstrating the game at G2E.

Like other strategy puzzle games, the object is to line up matching symbols, but they won’t diappear when you do. The goal is to match as many lines as possible on a 4×4 grid before running out of moves. Lines can run horizontal, vertical and diagonal, and require four in a row (including Wild symbols) for a win.

It’s inspired by Bejeweled and Candy Crush,” explained Thomas. “We took what we loved about those gaming mechanics, what made those games popular, and then we took what we know about gambling games and traditional slot machines and we melded the two to make something that’s seamless, unique and something that could actually work in a gambling space in a casino.”

How To Play

Players begin by choosing a bet size. The screen then fills up with symbols that drop into place (7’s, Bells, Cherries, Lemons, Gold Bars, Wilds, etc). Players will then receive a number of ‘Moves’, based on how many eligible moves there are on the screen.

If a game starts with zero moves, it’s usually an automatic loss, but as the duo explained, any game that starts with at least 1 move is destined to win.

All zero movers are losers, but all boards that have moves are guaranteed to win,” said Pettie. He noted that even a zero-move game can be a winner, if the symbols happen to fall with a matching line of four symbols already completed.

Strategy Matters in Line Em’ Up

Just winning is one thing, but winning a larger sum of money is the real trick, and that’s where strategy comes into play. The more lines that have all matching symbols, the more money a player will win.

The order of the moves matter,” explained Pettie in an interview with Las Vegas Review-Journal, “because it can impact how many lines you can ultimately make.” During one demo round, he was given a board where he could have made a line of 7’s in the first move, but instead, he made a different move that pulled a Wild over first, and was able to complete two lines, 7’s and Cherries, in two moves.

Best of all, said Pettie, “our math is it meets all the Nevada gaming regulations.” According to his partner, their algorithms guarantee a minimum 3.5% house edge for casinos, even by the most skilled of players. For those who don’t invoke perfect strategy, the house edge rises to about 6%.

The Line Em’ Up skill slots can be played right now for free on Android mobile devices as a social gaming app. But these boys have much bigger plans for the game, and are currently “in talks” with slot machine manufacturers to get their new game beyond free-to-play app, and into a live Las Vegas casino.

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